Life sentence of pain

The 18-year prison sentence given to convicted kidnapper and rapist Gerard John Baumgarte is not enough, says the victim’s uncle.

The 18-year prison sentence given to convicted kidnapper and rapist Gerard John Baumgarte is not enough, says the victim’s uncle.

Baumgarte, 57, of Red Deer, was sentenced on Friday for kidnapping a Penhold teenager on Feb. 26, 2009. She was held hostage in his Red Deer residence for almost two days and sexually assaulted several times before he released her.

“I feel my niece has to suffer a life sentence and he doesn’t. I think my niece got a worse sentence than he did and that’s where I’m frustrated and angry,” said the uncle, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of his niece.

“I think Canada really needs to bring back the death penalty. If you kill somebody, then you’re going to die too. If you let (the person you kidnapped) go, then you will sit in jail the rest of your life. That’s the message we need to send out,” he said outside the Red Deer Courthouse.

In November, Baumgarte pleaded guilty to kidnapping, forcible confinement, sexual assault, using an imitation firearm in the commission of an offence, assault using a knife and falsely representing himself as a peace officer.

As an untreated sexual sadist, Baumgarte represents a continued danger to society, said Justice Doreen Sulyma in passing sentence in Red Deer Court of Queen’s Bench.

Sulyma said Baumgarte showed a “premeditated and predatory manner” and “wanton disregard” for the young victim.

She sentenced Baumgarte to 17 years for the kidnapping and a further year for using an imitation firearm in committing the offence. Sentences for the other charges are to be served concurrently — 12 years for sexual assault, 10 years for unlawful confinement, three years for assault with a knife, and six months for impersonating a police officer.

He was given credit for time served since his arrest on March 1, 2009, so his sentence was reduced to 15 years and 315 days in prison.

Posing as a police officer, Baumgarte stopped the victim outside her home at about 9:40 p.m. after she made a quick trip to a nearby convenience store in Penhold.

He wore a fur hat similar to that worn by RCMP officers and his clothing had RCMP flashes and yellow strip down the pant legs similar to Mounties. His car was equipped with red and flashing lights.

Baumgarte asked the girl to get into his car. Once inside, he held a knife to her face and her cheek was slashed when she struggled.

He then pointed an imitation handgun at her and forced her to wear ski goggles, which had been painted black.

The girl was then tied up. He put her in the trunk of his vehicle and took her to his residence in north Red Deer.

After the assaults over a span of 46 hours, he dropped her off at a Red Deer shopping mall.

The girl’s disappearance sparked a police manhunt and prompted friends, family and strangers to hold candlelight vigils.

Her uncle said she’s still afraid to be in her own town.

“Penhold is a nice little town . . . she doesn’t feel totally comfortable there anymore and that’s sad.”

On the day of the sentencing, she stayed home from school and was going to make cookies all day to keep herself busy, he said.

Crown prosecutor Orest Yereniuk, who recommended Baumgarte receive a life sentence, said Sulyma’s decision was very fair.

The minimum number of years that Baumgarte must serve before he is eligible for parole will be determined by the parole board.

“Just because you’re eligible for parole doesn’t mean the parole board will give you parole,” Yereniuk said.

“I’m very confident that the RCMP and the family will be making representations at every parole board hearing that this man may be seeking. I think their input will be invaluable in terms of protecting the community.”

Defence lawyer Patty MacNaughton said Sulyma considered all the relevant elements in making her decision.

“We had sought a sentence between 10 and 15 years and it was fairly close to that,” MacNaughton said.

Her client is not appealing his sentence.

Baumgarte must provide a DNA sample, he has a lifetime firearms prohibition and will be listed in Canada’s sex offender registry, which means once a year he must let Corrections Canada know where he resides.

Baumgarte will be ordered to get treatment in prison and MacNaughton said she thinks he is receptive.